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Zero Discharge Desalination (ZDD)

Principal Investigator: Malynda Cappelle

UTEP received $1.2 million in funding from the US Bureau of Reclamation for a multi-year research project to demonstrate and commercialize the Zero Discharge Desalination technology. The first year accomplished design studies to evaluate incorporation of nanofiltration membranes and the design and procurement of a purpose-built demonstration system. The demonstration and pilot activities were located at Reclamation's Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility (BGNDRF) in Alamogordo, New Mexico, as well as sites in Colorado and California (with external funding).

The Zero Discharge Desalination (ZDD) process offers potential to maximize the volume of product water from a brackish source while minimizing impacts to the environment caused by waste disposal. This work will build on several years of pilot demonstrations at the BGNDRF and other locations. This effort will be a partnership between The University of Texas at El Paso, Livingston Associates, Veolia Water Solutions, and the City of Alamogordo. UTEP and Veolia supported pilot demonstrations in Beverly Hills, California, with Black & Veatch and pilot demonstrations in La Junta and Brighton, Colorado, with HDR and MWH.

Brackish groundwater in Alamogordo is nearly saturated in CaSO4 (gypsum), which limits desalination yield by reverse osmosis (RO) to about 75% without chemicals or softening. Previous pilot tests conducted at BGNDRF have demonstrated that the ZDD technology is capable desalination yields as high as 98% with a proprietary silica removal system. High recovery processes are essential because of waste disposal costs, fixed water supply, and environmental concerns associated with brine.

Phase 1 Equipment at BGNDRF (Alamogordo, NM)

Phase 2 Equipment at BGNDRF (Alamogordo, NM)

Phase 2 Equipment (40 gpm EDM)

EDM Container at Beverly Hills Desal Plant

ZDD Testing with NaCl Recovery in La Junta Desal Plant

ZDD testing in Brighton Desal Plant


The University of Texas at
El Paso
Kelly Hall, Room 208
500 W. University Ave
El Paso, TX 79968